(Or ‘bobsleighs’, if you must.)

The Jamaican Bobsled Team did not qualify for the 2010 Olympics. I’ve heard that they’re chronically short of money, and often use equipment that is outdated.

How much does a modern, current-model bobsled cost?

How does one get into bobsledding, anyway? I can’t imagine that some schlub could just go to a resort and rent one like he can skis or snowboards or ice skates.

And as long as I’m at it, what about ski-jumping? They can’t just let anyone try it.

Found this:

Howelson Hill in Steamboat Springs used to have ski jumping training you could pay for. I have no idea if they still do or not. But they used to have Itty bitty jumps all the way up to huge size.

It always looked like fun. But with two destroyed knees (one from skiing) it’s not for me.

For ski jumping you start training on small hills, and work your way up to the big. Most likely you start as a kid in organised forms, and the trainer and you decide when you’re ready to move to a bigger hill.

Who would stop you from just finding a hill and jumping? Or do you mean the big ramps built just for the long jump? But again, do they check a cert of some kind if you just show up and jump?

Competiton-standard bobs are expensive, many tens of thousands of dollars, and the runners are not cheap either. Hard to imagine where that money goes, but I guess you’re essentially paying one-off design costs yourself. Even luges – ISTR during the opening ceremony the BBC commentator remarked that an Indian competitor’s luge was ruined in an accident, and some businessmen stumped up $6,000 to replace it. Or maybe it was 6,000 GBP.

I don’t know about luges, but here’s a price list for skeletons. Based on that, $6,000 sounds about right.

I’ve often wondered the same thing and was talking to my Wife about it last night.

How does one choose this as a sport?

My Wife and I did do a bob sled run in Park City Utah before their games. On the real course. It was way, way scaled back and had the brakes or whatever on the whole way. I suspect we got up to 30mph.

“Here’s your helmet, hang on and don’t touch anything”. Similar to a flight I had in Belize when the last seat in the plane was where the co-pilot was supposed to be. No helmet on that trip though.

I got a reply to an email I sent to the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation:

so i’m assuming olympic cities have keep their bobsled runs up and charge tourists? how much, if you don’t mind me asking?


Tired of living, are you?

I also rode the bobsled run in Park City, but before the Olympics. They did it as a fundraising thing to raise money to buy all those expensive sleds and runners.

I don’t remember what we paid at the time, but now it is $200 a ride per person. And I don’t know what kind of ride enipla got, but we got up to 70 mph. On their website, they advertise “speeds up to 80 mph, and pulling close to 5 G’s of force.”

Park City bobsled website:

I have to say, it was fun, but so fast. Before you ride, they tell you to try count the turns, and it’s almost impossible to keep count as they come so fast.

I suspect that not-quite-latest-technology bobsleds can be had for reasonable money. The sport doesn’t have vast number of participants. To those that are in it to race seriously (probably a decent percentage), a new sled that’s 0.2% faster becomes a must-have item; the old one is no longer desirable and is probably not easy to sell.

The second and fourth place finishers in yesterday’s nordic combined were raised in Steamboat.

I think the main criteria for both of these sports is living in the right place. Steamboat has the ski jumping hills. There’s one in Michigan, and I’ve seen a jump hill in Wisconsin. Park City, UT and Lake Placid have the hills and tracks. That’s where the instructors live, too.

In bobsled, the driver is the skill position. I imagine these people start as youngsters at the bottom portions of the tracks and work their way up to the full track. The pushers are often track athletes with speed and strength and are really just in it for the ride once the start is completed. Hershel Walker was a pusher for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1992 Winter Games.

Indeed, I found a 2008 Davenport sled for $5,000. Basically 1/10 the price of a new Bo-Dyn one.

OK, so suppose I know I’m not an Olympic athlete, and they’d laugh at me if I filled out the “recruitment form” giving my speed and strength. But suppose I’d still like to give bobsled racing a try–not just going down a run, but participating in an organized, timed race.

Is such a thing possible? Do the bobsled runs offer “rec leagues” for weekend warriors?

It is not just good enough to get a bobsleigh, for competition it needs to be a good bobsleigh. These things are designed to minimalise wind resistance and need considerable wind tunnel time, hence the high costs. These bobs are usually also (or at least often)designed for a single team (on order), so there is little room to spread the development costs. The quality of the sled can make or break your chances; the dutch team used to be crap (obviuously, I don’t think there is a run here), but with their new sled they suddenly are challenging for the podium - or at least they were during the last world cups.
What ski jumping is concerned, there are many smaller hills and I imagine they start with low starting positions (so less speed= less distance) and slowly work up until it’s time to move to the next one. As to how they can keep you from jumping: Í wouldn’t expect anyone to just be able to get to the top of a big jump. There is p[robably some doors (or even lifts) that lead to the area where you access the ramp and I doubt they are open often; when they are, there is probably only a handful of people who are allowed in.

You can buy a ticket to go to the top of the ski jump in Lake Placid, just for the view. I did it in the fall a few years ago, and it was beautiful.

When I watch it on TV, I think “these guys are nuts.” To actually stand at the top, and look down the run all the way to the bottom, I think “these guys are fucking insane!” It really is something else to see it, in person, from that perspective.